The Obama Administration has signed a pre-landfall declaration of emergency in Connecticut ahead of Hurricane Sandy, as the state awaits the massive storm’s arrival.
During a morning press briefing at the state armory in Hartford, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the declaration by President Barack Obama will make it easier for the state to seek federal assistance for clean up efforts in the state when Hurricane Sandy passes.
As residents brace for the worst of the storm, Malloy said Sandy’s effects have started. Sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour are already being felt in the southwestern part of the state, with gusts of up to 45 miles per hour. Long Island Sound has already seen a small storm surge that will grow as the day goes on and Sandy’s winds force more water into the sound.
Officials are particularly concerned about the high tide that will occur at midnight. That tide is expected to bring the biggest surge, possibly as much as much as 11 feet, and devastating flooding, Malloy said.
“I’m concerned about the loss of life along the water,” he said.
Mandatory evacuations have been order in numerous shoreline communities all the way from Greenwich to Stonington. Malloy said tidal rivers and streams will also rise with the surge and residents who live near them might also need to evacuate.
Malloy said Hurricane Sandy is now expected to surpass the Hurricane of 1938 that devastated Connecticut.
“I think in Connecticut no one thought ’38 would ever happen again,” Malloy said. “The potential loss of life and property in Connecticut are extremely high. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but I’m not going to mince words. This is the most catastrophic event hat we’ve ever felt or had to plan for in our lives.”
Public transportation systems were shut down as of this morning, including all Amtrak service, Metro-North Railroad trains and the CT Transit bus system. In addition, Malloy has ordered all non-essential state employees to remain home today and many major employers also have shut down for the day.
According to a press release issued by the governor's office, Malloy also ordered "that all expiration dates and periods of validity for motor vehicle registrations, licenses, permits, certificates and other forms of credentials issued by or on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles be immediately extended until further notice due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy on Connecticut."
Malloy said at the briefing that New York and New Jersey have issued bans on all truck traffic in their states and Connecticut within the next few hours will do the same. Bradley International Airport was also expected to close Monday by noon.
He said residents should heed the truck traffic ban and also stay off the state’s highways today.
“Folks, there’s a reason all transit is being shut down, it’s dangerous out there and it will only become more dangerous," Malloy said. "Stay home. Let me repeat that, stay home. We’ve done everything we can to protect you from the storm. Stay home, hang on, pray and hope for the best.”